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GPs go forth

NHS to link up data from GP records and secondary care

Information from GP practice records will be routinely linked with secondary care data so commissioners can better design services, says the head of the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Dr Mark Davies, the HSCIC’s executive medical director and a GP in West Yorkshire, said that by next autumn data from GP practices extracted through the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES) will routinely be linked with secondary care data such as hospital episode statistics.

This is so that commissioners can understand patients’ journeys through different pathways in the NHS, and design services accordingly, he said.

The news comes after the NHS Commissioning Board has been given access to anonymised data from GP practices through GPES, leading to calls from the GPC for a publicity campaign to inform patients their data was no longer being used purely to improve their care directly.

Dr Davies said the linked data could be used to profile patients - such as those more likely to develop diabetes or hospital acquired infections - enabling more targeted treatments to be administered in response. Individual GPs could also receive information on specific patients as a result of analysis of the linked data, he added.

He said: ‘We need to understand the flows of patients between these systems and who’s going when, what sorts of conditions are being treated when, in order to design an appropriate service.

‘We can only do that when we know what’s happening in particular localities. This will mean GPs will see services designed with patients in mind, rather than organisations in mind.’

‘Let’s think about unscheduled care, the coordination of ambulance services, out-of-hours general practices, A&E services, the NHS 111 number. In a particular locality, the experience that patients have of the NHS is significantly determined by which door they go through. If they go to A&E they’re more likely to be admitted, if they call 999 they’re more likely to go to A&E, if they go to a GP OOH service they’re less likely to end up in hospital.’

Dr Davies added: ‘We’ll get a group of patients and do what I call data-driven segmented interventions. This means identifying a group more likely to be admitted to hospital, develop diabetes, at risk of developing hospital acquired infections. And targeting your interventions more than you would across the general populations.’

‘So we’ll be linking data, doing risk profiles on the data then feeding it back to GPs to adapt their care. That’ll be OK because we’re feeding data back to the people who gave it to us for it to be used in direct patient care.’

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Readers' comments (6)

  • What if the GP doesn't agree to the GPES extraction?

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  • What a waste of time and money.

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  • andrew Field

    All designed to allow private providers into the information chain. Resist

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  • Bye and thanks for all the fish

    Ah but, GPES will be used to provide the data to CQRS that will support payments made through the QOF.
    So saying no could lead to no QOF payments.
    Three words spring to mind, short, curly and grabbed.

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  • " and do what I call data-driven segmented interventions"
    Does that mean treat the patients properly according to your professional expertise or does it mean forget the patient and treat the data.

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  • A worrying concept that extracting processing data and them feeding back information justifies the exercise "because it improves individual patient care" leads me to ask :-
    a)if it is not individual patient identifiable how do you ensure this is premise is correct ?
    b) if you currently have the weighting algorithm why not employ it at a practice level in house?

    I suspect the reality is the hope that IF we breach the confidentiality in advance the released aggregated data MAY allow development of an algorithm that has utility-and that is a markedly different proposal ethically!

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